Thomas Reuben Bonner, son of William N. and Martha Ellen (Wade) Bonner, was born in Holmes County, Mississippi, on September 11, 1838. He moved with his parents to Rusk, Texas, in February 1850. At twelve years of age he became an apprentice printer on the Cherokee Sentinel. He began at that time to educate himself by reading and self-directed study. He left the Sentinel to take charge of his father's farm in 1854 and was a farmer at the outbreak of the Civil War. He entered Confederate service in April 1862 as captain, Company C, of Col. William B. Ochiltree's Eighteenth Texas Infantry. He was subsequently major, lieutenant colonel, and colonel of that regiment, which served in the Trans-Mississippi Department as an element of Walker's Texas Division. After the war Bonner farmed until 1866, when he began reading law at Rusk in the office of his older brothers, F. W. and M. H. Bonner. He was admitted to the bar in 1867 and practiced law at Rusk until September 1872, then moved to Tyler, where he entered the banking business with E. C. Williams. Bonner became a leading East Texas banker, railroad director, and financier. He was apparently married twice, first to Cynthia A. Madden of Cherokee County and, later, to Mary Davenport. With Mary he had two sons. In 1866 Bonner represented Rusk County in the state legislature. In 1876 he was elected to the legislature from Smith County and was speaker of the House during the ensuing session. He was a Methodist and a high-ranking Mason. He died in 1891.
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Sidney S. Johnson, Texans Who Wore the Gray (Tyler, Texas, 1907). William S. Speer and John H. Brown, eds., Encyclopedia of the New West (Marshall, Texas: United States Biographical Publishing, 1881; rpt., Easley, South Carolina: Southern Historical Press, 1978).
Late Nineteenth-Century Texas
The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this entry.
Lester Newton Fitzhugh,
“Bonner, Thomas Reuben,”
Handbook of Texas Online,
accessed June 25, 2022,
Published by the Texas State Historical Association.
Original Publication Date:
Most Recent Revision Date:
November 1, 1994